We often overlook the hallway when it comes to putting in design elbow grease. But they're not just thoroughfares to be painted white and forgotten, how you design your hallway and in particular its colour scheme, can provide an important link to the rooms that lead off them. This is particularly important as they're the first room in our homes that guests see.
What's more, hallways are usually long, narrow, poorly lit spaces that need all the help they can get to shine. So why not liven up this crucial space with our paint ideas? Whether you feel like experimenting or are after a classic look, there is something here for everyone.
- Just want a gorgeous grey hallway? Check out these grey hallway design ideas
1. Use paint colours to change proportions
Putting a dark colour on a wall makes it advance visually; lighter ones make it recede. So, the trick in this hallway, with the darker wall at the far end and lighter walls around it, has been to make it feel squarer. Other clever tricks? The use of the same paler colour on the ceilings and woodwork, including the door, makes the hallway feel less busy, and therefore more spacious, too.
As for the colour, mauves and purples are distinctive, yet welcoming. Perfect for a hallway, in other words.
Wooded Solace (pale colour) and Blackberry Bush, both by Dulux.
2. Mimic the sun
One thing is certain about hallways, and it is that they almost always get very little natural daylight. Neutral shades are a tried and tested way to combat this problem, but why not go a step further and cheer up your hallway with a sunny shade? Keep it contemporary with no fuss accessories and neutral colour accents.
3. Experiment with bold contrasts
A pairing of intense shades is guaranteed to elevate your hallway from the most forgettable space in the house to statement interior. Don’t be afraid of bold shades – it’s all about making sure that they harmonise, which you can ensure by picking tones that can compete equally. Use the darker colour on the lower half of the wall to keep the hallway feeling as spacious as possible.
4. Create a warm welcome with peachy pastels
If going for a bold clash isn’t your thing, you can still experiment with contrasting shades and colour blocking, all the while keeping things safely neutral with an off-white scheme and nearly matching tones. Want a contemporary feel? Introduce warm, peachy pinks into your hallway; they look fab matched with white paintwork and richly-grained mid-tone wood.
5. Get maximum effect from your favourite colour
Since hallways tend to be, for the most part, pretty much unfurnished spaces, there is little to worry about in terms of paint colours clashing with furniture. So, this is the place to really indulge in a colour you love, by putting it on walls, woodwork and even radiators. Perfect for making a small space feel larger, this trick will work in both contemporary and traditional homes.
We love this dusty turquoise Monday Blues from Crown Paints.
6. Create an accent with a line
You can add even more interest to a two-tone hallway by painting a sleek black line just over the dado rail. Combined with the grey-pink paint pairing, the black creates an effortlessly smart finish here, and picks out the black of the floor tiles and lamp base, neatly tying the colour scheme together.
7. Add character with a deep grey shade
Hallways should not be painted dark colours, right? Well, it all depends on the shade. While painting your hallway black will only really work in homes with lofty ceilings, a strong, deep shade of grey can lend hallways in even modern, more compact homes a classy, manor house-style look. Accent with colourful paintings and decorative pieces for an eclectic feel, and keep the ceiling white to bounce light around.
This hallway (and the one at the top of the page) is in Farrow & Ball’s bestselling lead grey shade Down Pipe.
8. Paint a door frame in a contrasting shade
Who says door frames, woodwork and doors (for that matter) have to be white? You can give a contemporary hallway a modern feel and a traditional home a period feel by using the same neat paint trick: painting woodwork in a darker, contrasting shade. A quick way to freshen up an already neutral space, it's a practical move, too, especially if you have kids or pets who leave their grimy marks as they pass.
9. Pick pastels for a busy space
If your hallway is a higgledy piggledy warren of doors, stairs and corners, a pale pastel will make it look light, bright – and restful. For a country-style look, match it with delicate whitewashed furniture and delicate accessories; for a contemporary appeal, match it with blonde wood.
This hallway is decorated in Bone China Blue from Little Greene.
10. Go easy with a rich cream shade
There is nothing quite like a creamy paint colour for an instantly inviting effect. But, more than that, it's so easy to update – simply swap out accessories, such as table lamps or rugs to update your colour scheme, without picking up a paintbrush.
11. Discover the optical effects of green
Green is the most relaxing of colours, making it perfect for a busy family hallway. Lighter shades also work wonders at visually expanding small spaces, especially when paired with a bright white shade. In this hallway, a gentle sage colour opposite white walls creates depth and an impression of space, plus it links neatly to the colour scheme of the room beyond.
12. Explore multiple shades of the same colour
Using darker and lighter tones of the same colour creates focus in a space. So, just as you might highlight a fireplace wall in a living room by painting it a different colour to those of the rest of the room, you can achieve a similar effect in a hallway. Why not start by painting the wall behind a console table to draw attention to that, or the one at the far end of the hallway on which you've hung a gallery of pictures? The contrasting accent in this hallway makes the space feel contemporary and lifts the pale scheme into a sunnier one.
13. Go eclectic
If you are feeling really adventurous, and your home's (generous) proportions can accommodate a bold, contrasting scheme, why not use the hallway to really explore the potential of unusual colour combinations? If you are confident in your understanding of colour, go for it, but perhaps keep the bold clashes to upstairs, and ground the scheme with a deep, neutral shade for woodwork and doors.
14. Red is not off-limits
Red is a bold choice for a hallway, but it can work really well if you choose a sophisticated, mid-tone shade, and match it with more muted colours for doors, floors and woodwork.
This smooth crimson is Radicchio from Farrow & Ball.
15. Don’t under-estimate versatile off-whites
An off-white shade is a failsafe option for hallways, guaranteed to make the space look fresh, light and spacious. Off-whites come in an almost endless variety of subtle undertones, so there is still plenty of room for creating individual style and variation if you use more than one tone.
We like Farrow & Ball’s James White, a sophisticated off-white with a slight green undertone.
16. Choose a contrasting tone for the woodwork
If your hallway has attractive woodwork, you might like to make a feature of it rather than concentrating on the walls. Pick your colour carefully – woodwork tends to look good in natural shades rather than anything too bright. Bear in mind, too, that a dark shade on woodwork only will still make a big impact on the natural light in the space.
17. Paint the staircase
A great way to add character to a hallway is by painting the staircase. It's a look that can suit both contemporary and period properties, particularly country-style spaces, plus it's a good budget alternative to carpet.
Find out how to paint a staircase and get inspiration in our dedicated feature.
18. Create a family noticeboard with blackboard paint
If you're a parent to young kids who like to doodle on the walls anyway (we've all been there), or if you've got teens who need a little help with organisation, a wall painted with blackboard paint is a clever idea. Use our guide to painting a chalkboard wall for how tos and ideas.
19. Paint wall panelling for bags of character
Wall panelling is a practical choice for a hallway because it'll take all the knocks and scuffs that a plain painted wall or wallpaper won't. Choose a deeper shade for a low-maintenance look, and be sure to pick a paint with a wipeable finish.
For wall panel know how and design ideas, see our guide.
20. Paint hallway storage to blend away
If you're building in hallway storage, however large or small, painting it the same colour as the wall it sits on will help it visually recede, giving you a smarter finish. Pick a light, neutral shade for a space-enhancing finish.